Friday, September 9, 2011

“Lost in the Crowd BUT Found by the Crown”

S-1247 Palm Sunday/3A 04/17/11, (O) # 160; (S) #452; (C) #161

Text: Isaiah 50:4-9; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 27:11-66; (sermon John 12:12-19)

Theme: “Lost in the Crowd BUT Found by the Crown” (John 12:12-19)

Question: “Have you been lost?” 6th in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 6th Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him. The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him’” (John 12:12-19).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of Him who wore the crown of thorns, beloved in Christ, there is nothing more frustrating than being lost. Before the days of GPS, my wife and I traveled to Cleveland, OH to visit my uncle. After driving for 18 hours, somehow I took the wrong turn . It was dark, we were tired and needless to say frustrations ran very high that night. But what is even worse is being lost and not knowing it.

Today, as you and I travel in spirit to Jerusalem, we join the throngs of people who have come from all over the world to celebrate the Passover. It is estimated that during the weeks approaching the Passover, there would be close to 2.5 million people in Jerusalem. No wonder the Scripture writers tell us that there was a large crowd who followed Him. And those who followed Him cried out saying: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! In other word they were crying out to the Man riding the humble donkey, to save them. Save them from the Roman regime. Save them from the taxes they have to pay. Save them from the burdens of life. Do anything and save us. They had a misunderstanding of the type of king who would come. They wanted an earthly king; one who would be the leader and shaker of the Jewish nation with its capital in Jerusalem. These crowds were lost without knowing it.

Have you ever been lost dear friends? Being lost is not fun. It is frustrating. When a child is lost it throws a family into panic; we pray that when our children get “caught up” in the crowds of the day that we too would be in a panic about rescuing them and showing them their Savior. Others choose and want to get lost in the crowd so that they don’t stand out, so they aren’t noticed, so that they might not be seen and be called on to do something. Even among the crowds in Jerusalem when they saw Jesus riding the donkey; they didn’t know what to think about what they were hearing; So also today, when the “crowds” hear the message but it doesn’t touch their hearts because they are caught up in the things of this world.

Soon we will gather from the most awe inspiring celebration of Easter and there will be many “crowds” that will be in church this Easter: wondering; trying to get in “their points” with God, since they haven’t been in Church since Christmas; some who are “caught up” in the “drama” of the day, and even if they are not strong in faith, want to hear a message that is positive, perhaps even satisfies their curiosity. PAUSE.

The Gospel writer John writes: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43).

Fence-straddlers in large numbers are also present among us today. Claiming to be Christian is fine for them as long as that claim doesn’t cost them anything. And when it does, they leave. It may be because the preacher steps on their sins or because someone has the audacity to ask for their time, talent, and treasure as response to God’s love. Perhaps someone doesn’t pay enough attention to them. The bottom line, though, is that they will not “confess their faith” ... They shop for the church that best meets their own self-centered needs, while ignoring the doctrine of the Gospel in their shopping. They treat the Christian faith like a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what appeals to their individual tastes. (LifeLight, Bible sudy, p. 18)

How sad, that the situation has not changed. So many people even today, are still lost in the crowd. They are still looking for a king who would save them from inflation, from the burdens of life and the troubled marriage they are in. They want a king who would give them every wimp and desire. They treat Jesus like a Jeannie as they rub the bottle and demand from Him their heart’s desire. What we notice in the lost crowd of Jerusalem that day is that The King who entered Jerusalem to cheers of “Hosanna,” would exit the city to Jeers of “Crucify Him!” They didn’t understand the mission of Jesus nor the prophecy about Him. After all isn’t this why the heaven-sent Savior came. Listen to Zechariah: Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ (Zechariah 9:9). PAUSE.

“It’s good to be the king!” That slogan has become familiar through the ads of a prominent fast-food chain, like Burger King and Mattress King. When we think of being treated like royalty, we envision a life of luxury and being waited on hand and foot. Such attention and care could easily lead us to think, “It’s good to be the king.”

What a different kind of king we see in the Son of Man, our Sav­ior! Instead of leading a life of lux­ury, He wandered the hills and valleys of Palestine, with no real place to call home. Instead of being waited on hand and foot, this King came to serve His sub­jects with every fiber of His being. Instead of being crowned with gold, He wore a crown of thorns, because Jesus, our King, rules with a servant’s heart!

Today marks the entrance to the most Holy Week in the Church’s year. We will retrace our King’s journey to the cross, where He would pay the ransom price for His rebellious subjects. Jesus would lay down His life for deniers like Peter, betray­ers like Judas, cowards like the disciples who fled at His arrest, and for sinners like you and me. This King is the greatest of all kings, who in love serves us in giving His life into death so that we can live forever!

So many of the crowds are still lost and so are we. Lost in sorrow, suffering and in sadness. Lost in pain and hurt. Lost in the darkness of sin and death. Isn’t true that when you lose someone you love, you hurt and you lose focus? Certainly!!! PAUSE.

Have you picked the newspaper lately and looked at the obituary? There is always someone you know who has been swallowed up in death. Death our great enemy, has taken more casualties. Last week, an innocent guard at the State Penitentiary was brutally murdered. Louis Theiss, the fatherin-law of a colleague of mine also died. And other loved ones could be next. I’m sick and tired of death stealing life and our loved ones! And so is Jesus our servant King.

And so Jesus climbed on to a young donkey and rode meekly into Jerusalem to the praise and the palm-waving of the people. It didn’t look like it, but Jesus was going off to war. Our sermon Hymn: in the “Church Militant” section of the hymnal says in part, “The Son of God goes forth to war A kingly crown to gain. …” 452.

He went forth without a sword and without an army. Oh, He had some “soldiers” with Him, but you know how well they stood by their Lord’s side: while He prayed to His Father in the Garden, His watchers slumbered. The fiery “sons of Thunder” (James and John) and the would-be-valiant Peter fell fast asleep…and the soldiers of the High Priest came to take away our Lord.

What was next? Sham trials, a wishy-washy Governor, the scourging (oh, the scourging!), the painful walk to Calvary, the nails and the crown.

The crown! Is this thorny crown the “kingly crown” noted in the hymn? Yes! Our King on the cross, Jesus, had only a hastily made crown of thorns to adorn His head—and it was made in mockery to increase His suffering. Then the Roman soldiers bowed before Him in derision. His crown commanded no respect, only shame and scorn. His own people had rejected Him. But as He wore that terrible crown, He won forgiveness for us and the whole world. “It is finished (i.e., accomplished)!” He cried. The thorny crown is, thus, a glorious crown.

Christ has defeated our great enemy, death (along with sin and Satan!), by His death. The writer of Hebrews says, “…but we see Jesus…now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). And now He has traded in that thorny crown for an imperishable one. Christ suffered, died, rose and ascended into heaven; He now rules eternally with a crown whose glory will neither fade nor end, a crown of gold (Revelation 14:14). His joy will be to hand us each a crown: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The Son of God went forth to war during the week we call Holy Week. From the tragic cross to the triumphal entry, He gained a crown that week, still wears one, and He can’t wait to place a crown on your head in heaven!

Yes, beloved, you who were once lost in the crowd, have been found by Him who wore the crown—Jesus Your King forever. Amen.

Now the peace…

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